Sushi Samba’s Super Sake Salon

The Book of Books - The Sake ListBoy, I was in a bind! Now that I’m known as the “Sake-Guy” among my friends, It always falls to me to pick the location and the drink when we decide to go out for a little nihon-shu sipping. My College buddy Brad and I were long overdue for drinks and we wanted to catch up with eachother over some sake somewhere downtown on the west side since i’m in chelsea and he’s in the West Village.I ran through my usual list of sake hangouts and found they were heavily weighted to the east side of manhattan… Sakagura, Decibel, Satsko, Chibi’s, Sachiko’s on Clinton… what’s wrong with the west side?!, I thought. My mind scrambled to think of a place and “Sake-Guy” was coming up empty! What kind of “Sake-Guy” can’t think of a west side hangout, anyway?!

Samba Sake GlassThen it hit me – I remembered Paul Tanguay of the Amazing Of Rice and Zen blog had recently Posted about UrbanSake.com. He is Beverage Director and Sake Sommelier at Sushi-Samba. That’s it! Drinks at Sushi-Samba in the West Village. Done Deal.When Brad and I arrived, we found the restaurant hopping but lots of space in the sunken cocktail lounge. Our friendly waitress brought over the very extensive Sake list. So many wonderful things to choose from – you could just tell this list was crafted with the utmost care and know-how. awesome. You can check out the sake list on-line.
well, now the pressure was on to pick the sake. Brad said he enjoyed things a touch on the dry side, and we were in the mood to kill a whole bottle,so that’s what I had to work with. I was just wanting to pick something good. I did my best, followed my gut and went with the Sawanoi.

Sawanoi tastes GoodOur waitress said she hadn’t personally tasted it, but we forged ahead anyway. The sake was served in unique little glasses that looked kind of like miniture wine glasses. Our Waitress poured and we tasted. I’ve learned over time, and this was proven here again, that a sake really will ‘open up’ after it’s, well, opened up. The bottle was chilled and I was unsure of the taste durning our first few sips. After a few mins of gabbing and relaxing, the sake in the glass warmed just a touch closer to room temperature, and while still slightly chilled, the taste began to expand and mellow and offer that hint of dryness we were after.Brad was impressed and asked me to repeat the name of the sake we were enjoying. “Sa-wa-noi” I said. He was searching for some hook to help him remember the name for his next trip. “Sa-wa-noi… Sa-wa-noi…” then he had it! Sounds like “So-An-noy-ing!” um. well, yeah. it kinda does!
Our server brought us over a wine bucket for our sake – Fancy. It was this big, free standing, shining metal bucket… a far cry from the dinky ice bucket you usually get on your table.

Sawanoi Chillin' outMade me feel a little bit like I was at the stork club, or 21…. well, except for the people around us screaming about the world cup as events unfolded on widescreen tvs above our head.After a few more glassfuls and a few edamame, we found ourselves staring at the bottom of our Sawanoi bottle. empty! Well, in the end, this Ginjo really was delicious. It has some presence and complexity and was definitely not a watery-wallflower. After such a fun evening, and finding a good location and good sake, I really felt more like a real “Sake-Guy” than before. My Sake-Guy recommendation? when in the West Village, stop by Sushi-Samba for your sake pitstop.And don’t forget… to impress friends and family with your Sake know-how, be sure to ask for that “So-An-noy-ing!” sake.